John W. Harless '56 Joins Chapter Celestial

Purdue University, Cadillac Motor Car Company and the game of golf have just lost their favorite fan.  John William Harless, 83, of Simpsonville, South Carolina passed away peacefully on April 1, 2020 of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  

He is survived by his daughter, Jane Bailey (Stuart); four grandchildren, Annabelle Harless (Jacob Chodash), Melissa Vecchio (Steve), Alice and Jack Bailey; and a great grandson, John Vecchio.  He held dear his brother Ed (Donna) and sisters Mary, Nancy and Patricia and sister-in-law, Sarah Corley who all survive including numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.  John is preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Janet; and his son John Howard Harless.

John was born in 1936 in Charleston, WV to John and Catherine (Hart) Harless and has many fond memories of summers spent at his grandparents’ home in West Hamlin.  He spent his high school years in New Albany, IN and met many lifelong friends there. He hitchhiked to Purdue University in 1958 as an Army ROTC candidate, earned his engineering degree, became a brother of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and met his future wife, Janet Myers.  Despite his waning memory, he could always remember these cherished years with clarity and humor.

After serving his country at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he began his 38-year career at General Motors; the pinnacle as Human Resources Director for Cadillac in Detroit, Michigan.  He raised his family in Walled Lake, Michigan where he was an elder of Crossroads Presbyterian church, coach of numerous baseball and softball teams and president of his neighborhood, Hill N Dale. Upon retirement, he took up his passion of golf; joined Edgewood Country Club (10 handicap) and enjoyed time with his grandchildren.  Many happy memories were made at their lake cottage and the Frankfort, MI “Peaceful Palace.”  They later moved to Tecumseh, MI and, finally Greenville, SC to be closer to their daughter.   

John was a friend to all he met with his dry sense of humor, positive outlook and boundless enthusiasm.  A Memorial and celebration of his life is being planned for later this summer when we can all safely be together.